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Comedian Sara Pascoe brings greatest lovers to Belfast

Q & A

By Simon Fallaha

The English stand-up star (33) will be taking a rather unconventional look at history's greatest lovers when she brings her show to Belfast's Out to Lunch festival this month.

Q. Did you always want to be a comedian?

A. Absolutely not! I used to think comedy was very silly and rude; my ambitions lay in serious, dramatic acting. But then I saw a stand-up show for the first time in my mid-to-late 20s and realised how much you could laugh at and learn from the genre. Everything changed there.

Q. Who inspired you growing up?

A. My father, jazz musician Derek Pascoe, still practises up to eight times a day and I take heart from his dedication. When I see what he does and how he does it, I recognise that it's less about the money and more about what you want to do. But I don't really understand the musical side of it at all; my background's more literary. It comes from my mother, who's currently writing a book.

Q. You're bringing your history show to Belfast's Black Box as part of your first UK tour. What's it about?

A. I'm exploring some of the greatest love stories ever told, like Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine, Adam and Eve, and even Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. But I'm also tackling some serious biological issues, like the evolution of pair bonding and the attachment babies require while their brains develop. Really, it's a combination of everything.

Q. Are you looking forward to coming to Belfast?

A. I've actually been once before, to perform a comedy segment for students, and got so drunk at the end of the night I missed my flight home. So I'm really excited about returning. But I'm doing a full show this time, so I'll need to be more aware of recent history.

When I perform outside England I feel a guilty streak because of residual anti-English hatred.

Q. Does the audience's perception of your shows really matter to you?

A. No, I think you have to be plugged in to what you're doing and not worry about what others think. Try too hard to please everyone and you'll lose your own voice.

Q. How do you hope to inspire your audiences in addition to making them laugh?

A. To me, laughter is enough. But it's also great to engage people intellectually. I relish people coming up to me afterwards and sharing their views about my topics, whether we agree or disagree.

Q. You've appeared on the likes of QI and Mock The Week, although women tend not to be well represented on these panel shows. What's it like, being a woman in a man's world?

A. In some ways, great. You're noticed more in a crowd of male comedians. It carries a disability, though: one bad show, or not much talking, and you're more likely to get called out.

Q. Your boyfriend is fellow comedian John Robins. How did you meet?

A. We found ourselves chatting on a long car drive to a Leamington gig. When I got out of the car, we fell in love. Love at second sight, you might say. We clicked intellectually and sensitively. Chatting to other comics can be horrible, as they tend to complain about professional misfortunes, but John was deep, sensitive and witty.

Q. What does the future hold?

A. More shows, and longer shows. I also plan to write a book about the evolution of the female body and how our culture perceives it.

  • Sara Pascoe is at the Black Box, Belfast, for the Out to Lunch festival on January 15. For details, visit www.cqaf.com

 

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